Besakih, Bromo, and Borobudur
Oct 19, 2012
One note to add: the night before our minor accident we enjoyed a Balinese massage for a whopping $5 CAD. It was amazing!
Since our whirlwind adventure, so to say, riding motorbikes around Ubud the remainder of our time was dedicated to relaxing with a good book and/or crossword to let our bodies heal up. We did a lot of exploring around the main strip, Monkey Forest Road, trying out several of the local restaurants. We even became regulars at a little 'warung' (restaurant) down a side street that was to die for. The cashew ginger chicken seemed to be our favourite and at least one of us would order it each time we went. Not only was the food amazing, but numerous upscale restaurants along the strip offered happy hours which made it a little more affordable for us. Sipping on a pina colada while soaking up the beautiful surroundings made our healing process much more manageable.
We opted for one day to experience a little more of the outskirts of Bali and went on a tour. First stop was the Holy Springs Temple which was quite interesting but it seemed as though our tour driver was rushed and the time spent at most of our stops was speedy. Next stop was a plantation filled with everything and anything you can imagine... coffee, chocolate, fruits, veggies, spices, etc. Interesting to see how all those plants/trees can be combined into one big beautiful plantation! From there we taste tested a ton of the coffee and tea specialties that they offered, some of my favorites were the lemongrass tea, vanilla coffee, and the basic Bali coffee.
From there we quickly piled into the tour bus and drove Indonesian style (fast and as close to other vehicles as you can possibly get) to our next stop where we trucked up to have a view of Lake and Mount Batur. What a view!! It was stunning to say the least. A quick drive from there should've taken us to the Mother Temple, but we were stopped dead in our tracks when other tour buses were backed up. We hopped out of the bus to see what was up, and because we had reached such an altitude the winds had really picked up and blown down a tree. Although our driver was eager to skip the temple and move onwards, we were persistent to stay and wait for someone to come with a saw and let us through. Only fifteen minutes later, and tourists were cheering as some locals cut up the tree and pushed it to the side to allow everyone through. Something of an adventure :)
The Mother Temple or 'Besakih' was unreal, indescribable really. Which unfortunately makes it difficult to write about. Maybe google can help me out on this one. It's a massive temple built up on a mountain filled with the beauty of Bali and the incredible culture that they bask in day by day. It was really interesting to see all the locals come with piles of various offerings in baskets balanced on their heads hiking up the many stairs to take them to their final destination. Another quick stop here, which was really unfortunate, but our stall along the road did hold us back on time a little as well - we were off to our final destination. The beautiful rice terraces. They tried to suck us into an expensive lunch as it held a beautiful view of the terraces, however we just found a spot to sit and immersed ourselves in the view.
After a long day of touring and reckless driving, I was so happy to be back home. Only a few minutes from our bungalow was the Monkey Forest Temple, which is always interesting to see because, hey who doesn't love monkeys? The remainder of our time in Ubud was filling up on Indo cuisine, doing a little shopping in the markets, and taking full advantage of all the nearby happy hours. A mixture of bus and ferry over about nine hours brought us into our next stop in Indonesia....
Coming in at after midnight was a little intimidating but we managed to make some friends and they helped us out by bringing us to the nearest hotel. Being a big city and not used to much of a tourist population, while wandering the streets the following day we got a 'hello' from every shop, street corner, man sitting on his motorbike, you name it. We felt famous, it was great. We just soaked it right up! Spent most of our day wandering and hanging out in our hotel as there really was nothing to do and our primary reason of being there was to go to a tour of a volcano and Mount Bromo the following day.
2:00 am hit and we were up at 'em getting ready for our tour up to the volcano to catch the sunrise. Waiting in our hotel lobby for our tour guide to come get us and looking at the clock made us a little worried they weren't coming as they were already twenty minutes late. Not good if you're trying to catch the sunrise! After some brief discussion with the receptionist (in the best English he had), eyeing the clock, and going to check our own time - we realized we had forgotten about the hour time change between Java and Bali and worse that we had gotten up at 1:00 am! Eventually when the time was right, our tour bus came and picked us up.
We picked up some others along the way, a German fellow and a friendly English couple that we spent some time chatting with later on along the tour. We hit the highest point possible to get the best views of the volcano and Mt Bromo. Boy was it cold! The fog lifted and the sun rose, and I still can't believe how many pictures we took... but it was incredible. Again something worth Googling. Once the sun was up and we'd taken enough pictures, we headed in our amazing Jeeps (a little 4x4ing!) down into the caldera of the volcano and did a steep trek up to see into the volcano and get another incredible shot of Bromo. It was amazing! The ride back home was tiring and difficult to stay awake, but it was nice to make some friends and we discussed travel plans and what not. As soon as we got to our hotel we packed up our things and headed to the train station. We paid $3 for a near 8.5 hour train ride to our next destination. Managed to find two open bench seats to allow us to lay down and catch up on our much needed beauty sleep. I know someone who will appreciate this - while getting onto the train, there was a man who had to baby owls in a small cage right alongside our seats! Eight or so hours later of reading, crosswords and sleep we had made it to...
As soon as we unloaded from the train we were mauled by locals trying to transport to the tourist area of the city, and we initially said no and tried tracking it down on our own, but quickly realized that doing so in the dark of the night was not the best idea and got in a 'tricycle' packed with our heavy bags and had an elderly Indonesian man truck us over to a 'losmen' (hostel). We went out for some dinner but were still beat from the trip into Jogja so spent the remainder of the night at home.
The next day we spent wandering about the city, checking out the Kraton (Sultan's Palace, and no it's nothing like you'd see in Aladdin), Water Castle, and even the local mall to purchase a few much needed items. A long day of walking around was followed with an amazing dinner and drinks at a local restaurant where we happened to stumble upon our English friends who had made the journey there the previous day as well. After some discussion over a few beers, it seems as though they have a very similar itinerary as ours over the next few weeks and we should be bumping into them lots!
Next morning was another early rise at 4:30am, to catch the last bit of the sunset at the largest Buddhist temple in the world, Borobudur. Although having visited it last year, the sights were still incredible and thinking back to when it was first built I am still amazed at how it was all done. Wandering around the temple grounds was fun as well, stumbling upon elephants. However, the care that they were receiving was severely lacking and each was chained to the ground so that there was minimal movement allowed and it was really quite heartbreaking to see them as they were. We moved onto a unique art gallery which was full of odd things that seemed to have a similar theme Big and Small. Lots of pictures of people that you'd see in the Guinness World Records, a Mona Lisa painting of a similar looking man with a mustache, the smallest Buddha in the world (had to look through a strong magnifying glass), and several other unique things.
As soon as we made the drive back into Jogja we went straight to bed and napped for a few hours. Since then we've had a late lunch, spent way to long at the train station booking our train to take us into Jakarta tomorrow, and now updating all our friends and family back home to make sure they know we're thoroughly enjoying ourselves and safe and sound. Spending one night in Jakarta simply to be there for the next day to catch our flight and off we go to the Country of Pho, VIETNAM!
Hope you enjoy :)
P.S. I apologize for the lack of pictures, I will do my best for the next entry.